Kathryn Bondi is a Marywood alum with a stellar career. In addition to working full time as a Digital Design Manager at Posture Interactive in Scranton, PA, she’s the current President of AAF-NEPA, and one of our beloved adjunct design professors at Marywood. Meet Kat Bondi!
Graduation Year & Degree: 2010, BFA
Major: Graphic Design
Minor(s): Art History
Marywood Clubs/Activities: Student Addys, CMYKlub (it had just formed!), Peers On Wellness (POW!), Adopt-a-Grandparent program with Our Lady residents
Current Occupation: Digital Design Manager at Posture Interactive
How long at current job: 4 years
Here’s what Kat had to say about Marywood and her career in design
What was your favorite part about studying art at Marywood? I loved the class sizes because I consistently received one-on-one feedback from my professors on any work in progress. This led to lasting mentor relationships (and friendships!) with multiple teachers that I still look to for advice today. I also appreciated having access to all the resources in the studio arts program as a design major. Developing film by hand, cutting in the wood studio, and pulling proofs on the printing presses all helped me fully explore my interests as a designer and incorporate traditional hands-on methods into my digital projects.
How did your art education at Marywood help your career? I think Marywood gave me a great foundation for exploring all avenues of design – I started out with a heavy interest in illustration and thinking I would be a print designer. By the end of my 4 years, however, I became more interested in web and interactive design. I continued to dig into web design while working my first print-focused job in the newspaper industry and soon worked my way into an internet marketing company called Net Driven as a web designer (and eventually became the Creative Director for web team.) I think the desire to continue to learn and grow as a designer is something that Marywood helped me cultivate and pushed me to strive for these positions – and I haven’t stopped learning since!
What attracted you to this career path? I love being challenged on a daily basis to come up with creative solutions for clients in a variety of unique industries. I also find I get bored with repetitive tasks and routines – there was a lot of this in my first two full-time design positions and I think that was why I was constantly reaching for something more in my career. Now that I work in an agency environment at Posture Interactive, I can honestly say that every day is completely different and I love working with a team of marketing coordinators, video production specialists, and crazy smart developers to create some awesome interactive projects on a daily basis.
Did your career path match your vision of a career path? What’s different? I definitely had a different vision of my path when I first graduated school. I was thinking I would work at a large corporation in a major city as part of an in-house design team. Being a recent grad with limited experience during a recession, however, did not help me carry out this plan. As I progressed through 2 “start-up” style companies, I realized there’s a major creative advantage to being on a small team in a collaborative environment rather than being caught up in corporate structure and red tape. I was starting to run into a lot of this red tape as the creative director in a rapidly growing tech company. As I managed more paperwork and project specs than actual design work, the designer side of me was slowly beginning to slide away. This is what led me to work in a small agency with a mix of local and global high-profile clients – when a position opened and I was considered as a candidate, I was over the moon. I didn’t even care if I got the job, I was so stoked to just get inside an agency and interview. After 4 years with these wonderful creative people at Posture Interactive, I can honestly say we basically all share a hive mind and it’s a little crazy and sometimes super stressful – but mostly it’s FUN AS HECK and I’m really glad that my path brought me here (and kept me in the Electric City so I could come back and teach at Marywood.)
What is your favorite thing about your current job? I love that we constantly push the boundaries of what is considered a “creative solution.” Whether it’s an interactive choose-your-own-adventure-style video series or an immersive virtual reality environment, we’re constantly trying to put our creative powers together to put something into the universe that no one’s ever seen before and exceeds our clients’ expectations. I never would have imagined myself working on these kinds of projects as a designer back when I was in school – and it’s crazy to imagine how much things will change in 10 years for the graduating seniors of 2020.
Are you currently working on any interesting side projects? I’m actually pretty stoked to participate in the 2020 Marywood Print Guild – I’ll be dusting off my printing skills to create an edition centered around the theme “2020.” It is definitely a short-term goal of mine to spend more time in the studio printing and incorporating that into my work when I can. Shout-out to Peter Hoffer and Chris Medley for being awesome and super influential print teachers! I’ve also been working on an illustration series to expand my digital illustration portfolio.
What are some of the biggest rewards in your career? When the client is happy about the end product and excited about sharing it with the world, that’s a pretty good feeling as a designer. When they tell you that customers loved the new logo on the storefront, or the new website is bringing in twice the amount of sales for this month, or the poster/merch design is a hit with the band and their fans, or the new video series helped secure a following of 10K followers – that’s an incredible reward on a personal level. And when you ship a final product is almost exactly what you originally envisioned and proposed for this project, that feels pretty stinking good, too. Client edits can really take the wind out of your sails sometimes, so you need to celebrate those victories when you can!
What’s something that would surprise people about your day-to-day? I actually use a lot of copy writing skills in the midst of the design and web projects that I work on. Being a designer means working with typography almost 100% of the time, and often we are responsible for proofing and even writing some of that copy (taglines, descriptions, etc.). As an avid “wordsmith,” it’s something that I don’t mind, but I’ve seen my share of design students and professionals struggle with this part of the job due to lack of grammar skills or an eye for detail.
What inspires you? Seeing what the next generation is doing is incredibly inspiring. As an adjunct professor I love seeing the fresh ways that students approach projects that I’ve seen executed again and again over the years. I particularly love seeing what they come up with in the Interactive Design class that I’m teaching right now – there are so many ways that UX design will be a part of their design career in the coming years that we can’t even dream of, but the projects they’re turning out in this class are certainly a great start! I also love looking at other up-and-coming agencies and watching how they continue to break the mold as well. Interactive experience curators like Digital Kitchen, Meow Wolf and Dogstudio constantly blow my mind and push me to continuously expand my vision on how to execute a successful and memorable user experience.
Anything else you’d like to share? You don’t have to be a web developer to be a successful digital designer – get that idea out of your head! UX design is about curating the framework for a digital experience, there are skilled web developers that can focus on executing and coding that framework so you can focus on the overarching design vision without losing yourself in the code details. It took me a long time to learn this and I would beat myself up about it early on in my career.
Any advice for current art students at Marywood? YOU HAVE THE INTERNET IN YOUR HANDS – never stop using it! Keep learning through Googling and watching YouTube tutorials on anything you can – the learning doesn’t stop when you graduate because the technology is constantly changing. And try to pay attention to how people around you experience the world through their mobile devices – this is where the future of design is headed for websites, brands, events, and more and will likely dictate a large part of your design career, regardless of what niche of design you end up in. Good luck!
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